New England Revolution

3 takeaways after the Revolution are eliminated from the Leagues Cup by Querétaro on penalty kicks

New England will resume the MLS regular season on Aug. 20 against Nashville.

Revolution Leagues Cup
Revolution midfielder Noel Buck and Kevin Escamilla of Queretaro FC watch the ball during the first half of a Leagues Cup game. AP Photo/Mark Stockwell

The Revolution were left to rue a missed opportunity following Monday’s Round of 16 Leagues Cup defeat to Liga MX side Querétaro FC on penalty kicks.

Playing at home (though technically the road team), New England struggled to create chances in the first half, but could’ve still been in the lead had DeJuan Jones’s 20th minute header found the net instead of the crossbar.

The visitors scored almost immediately after the break, with Querétaro’s Jaime Gómez Valencia latching onto the end of a speculative cross, wrong-footing Revolution goalkeeper Djordje Petrović, culminating with the ball trickling into the net.


New England substitute Esmir Bajraktarevic eventually leveled the proceedings in the 78th minute, scoring his first goal for the senior team in stylish fashion.

The game eventually went to penalty kicks, where even the skillful efforts of Petrović — with a rare talent for saving spot kicks — couldn’t carry the Revolution to a win. Nacho Gil and Ian Harkes missed their shots, and Querétaro found a way to advance.

The resulting defeat means New England will not play another competitive game until MLS regular season resumes on Aug. 20 with an away matchup against Nashville.

Here are a few takeaways:

The Revolution clearly missed the contingent of injured players.

Carles Gil’s glaring importance to the Revolution is rarely more apparent than when the Spaniard is out with an injury.

Having been cynically clipped by a defender in New England’s Round of 32 win over Atlas on Thursday, Gil was carrying a knee issue and couldn’t return to the lineup. Forward Gustavo Bou was also out, and right back Brandon Bye confirmed following the win over Atlas that he will miss the rest of the season due to an ACL injury.

Each player’s absence was felt in multiple ways. Without Bye, Jones was once again switched to right back (with Ryan Spaulding jumping into the starting lineup to play on the left). And while Jones is adept at playing both left and right back, his qualities shine brighter on the left side where he has much more experience (though he was inches from opening the scoring in the first half).


Bou was missed both for his ability to create direct offense — New England recorded fewer shots on goal (3-2) than Querétaro — and his trickery in the final third.

But it was Gil who the Revolution seemed to miss the most. Given that Gil is not only team captain but a fulcrum of New England’s passing, he is a crucial component in multiple ways. Without him, the Revolution played a 4-1-4-1 (with Vrioni the lone strike and midfielder Matt Polster in the holding role), and struggled to progress the ball into Querétaro’s half.

It wasn’t until the second half that the game opened up a little more.

Djordje Petrović returned to the lineup and made his presence felt.

After missing the previous round of the Leagues Cup due to what was stated as “personal reasons,” (and was reportedly related to the ongoing transfer interest from multiple European clubs), Petrović returned to the lineup on Monday.

Having barely had time to reset after the absence, Petrović made a snap save within the first few moments of the game (though the shot was later called back due to offsides). Still, it was an early indication of the kind of saves he would make in open play on Monday.


The unfortunate part for the 23-year-old Serbian keeper was that he was unable to prevent Querétaro’s goal from slowly bouncing in after it appeared he was caught off-guard by Valencia managing to get his head on the end of the cross.

Yet Petrović more than made up for it with his play over the rest of the 90 minutes. On several occasions, he made quality saves look routine.

While he might feel he could’ve done more during penalty kicks, in truth Querétaro’s efforts were well-placed and hard for even the best keeper to save. The game ended in defeat for New England but the team’s talented goalkeeper still shined for much of the night.

It was a nice night for another academy talent.

With newly-acquired Argentine winger Tomás Chancalay appearing on New England’s bench, it appeared he might make his debut on Monday. Yet when assistant coach Richie Williams’s substitutions were made, he opted for more familiar faces, including both Damian Rivera and Bajraktarevic.

Rivera has played sparingly in 2023, but put in an energetic and skillful shift. Bajraktarevic has also found minutes less plentiful in recent weeks, but produced a quality finish for his first Revolution goal.

The 18-year-old took advantage of a good first touch on Polster’s entry pass and didn’t hesitate with the finish.


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